Jeffrey D. Sachs says the U.S. president’s dismissal of diplomacy undermines his own party, prolongs the destruction of Ukraine and threatens nuclear war.
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
President Joe Biden is undermining his party’s congressional prospects through a deeply flawed foreign policy.
Biden believes that America’s global reputation is at stake in the Ukraine War and has consistently rejected a diplomatic off-ramp. The Ukraine War, combined with the administration’s disruptions of economic relations with China, is aggravating the stagflation that will likely deliver one or both houses of Congress to the Republicans.
Far worse, Biden’s dismissal of diplomacy prolongs the destruction of Ukraine and threatens nuclear war.
Biden inherited an economy beset by deep disruptions to global supply chains caused by the pandemic and by former President Donald Trump’s erratic trade policies. Yet instead of trying to calm the waters and repair the disruptions, Biden escalated the U.S. conflicts with both Russia and China.
Biden attacked Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for expressing doubts on another large financial package Ukraine, declaring:
“They [House Republicans] said that if they win, they’re not likely to fund — to help — continue to fund Ukraine, the Ukrainian war against the Russians. These guys don’t get it. It’s a lot bigger than Ukraine — it’s Eastern Europe. It’s NATO. It’s real, serious, serious consequential outcomes. They have no sense of American foreign policy.”
Similarly, when a group of progressive congressional Democrats urged negotiations to end the Ukraine War, they were excoriated by Democrats following the White House line and forced to recant their call for diplomacy.
Stoked a Proxy War
Biden believes that American credibility depends on NATO expanding to Ukraine, and if necessary, defeating Russia in the Ukraine war to accomplish that. Biden has repeatedly refused to engage in diplomacy with Russia on the NATO enlargement issue.
This has been a grave mistake. It stoked a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia in which Ukraine is being devastated, ironically in the name of saving Ukraine.
The whole issue of NATO enlargement is based on a U.S. lie dating back to the 1990s. The U.S. and Germany promised Soviet leader MikhailGorbachev that NATO would move “not one inch eastward” if Gorbachev would disband the Soviet Warsaw Pact military alliance and accept German reunification. Conveniently — and with typical cynicism — the U.S. reneged on the deal.
In 2021, Biden could have headed off the Ukraine War without sacrificing any single vital interest of the U.S. or Ukraine. U.S. security absolutely does not depend on NATO enlarging to Ukraine and Georgia.
In fact, NATO enlargement deeper into the Black Sea region undermines U.S. security by putting the U.S. into a direct confrontation with Russia (and a further violation of the promises made three decades earlier). Nor does Ukraine’s security depend on NATO enlargement, a point that President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged on numerous occasions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the U.S. repeatedly since 2008 to keep NATO out of Ukraine, a region of vital security interests for Russia. Biden has equally, resolutely insisted on NATO enlargement. Putin made one last diplomatic try at the end of 2021 to stop NATO enlargement. Biden completely rebuffed him. This was dangerous foreign policy.
As much as many American politicians don’t want to hear it, Putin’s warning about NATO enlargement was both real and apt. Russia doesn’t want a heavily armed NATO military on its border, just as the U.S. would not accept a Chinese-backed heavily armed Mexican military on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The last thing the U.S. and Europe need is a long war with Russia. Yet that’s just where Biden’s insistence on NATO enlargement to Ukraine has brought about.
The U.S. and Ukraine should accept three absolutely reasonable terms to end the war: Ukraine’s military neutrality; Russia’s de facto hold on Crimea, home to its Black Sea naval fleet since 1783; and a negotiated autonomy for the ethnic-Russian regions, as was called for in the Minsk Agreements but which Ukraine failed to implement.
Instead of this kind of sensible outcome, the Biden administration has repeatedly told Ukraine to fight on. It poured cold water on the negotiations in March, when Ukrainians were contemplating a negotiated end to the war but instead walked away from the negotiating table.
Ukraine is suffering grievously as a result, with its cities and infrastructure reduced to rubble, and tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers dying in the ensuing battles. For all of NATO’s vaunted weaponry, Russia has recently destroyed up to half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
In the meantime, the U.S.-led trade and financial sanctions against Russia have boomeranged. With the cutoff of Russian energy flows, Europe is in a deep economic crisis, with adverse spillovers to the U.S. economy.
The destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline further deepened Europe’s crisis. According to Russia, this was done by U.K. operatives, but almost certainly with U.S. participation. Let us recall that in February, Biden said that if Russia invades Ukraine, “We will bring an end to it [Nord Stream].” “I promise you,” said Biden, “we will be able to do it.”
Pres. Biden: "If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it."
Reporter: "But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany's control?"
Biden: "I promise you, we will be able to do that." https://t.co/uruQ4F4zM9 pic.twitter.com/4ksDaaU0YC
— ABC News (@ABC) February 7, 2022
Biden’s flawed foreign policy has also brought about what generations of foreign policy strategists including Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski warned against: driving Russia and China into a firm embrace. He has done that by dramatically escalating the cold war with China at precisely the same time as he is pursuing the hot war with Russia.
From the start of his presidency, Biden starkly curtailed diplomatic contacts with China, stirred up new controversies regarding America’s long-standing One China policy, repeatedly called for greater arms sales to Taiwan, and implemented a global export ban on high-tech to China. Both parties have rallied to this destabilizing anti-China policy, but the cost is further destabilization of the world, and also the U.S. economy.
In sum, Biden inherited a difficult economic hand — the pandemic, excess Fed liquidity created in 2020, large budget deficits in 2020, and pre-existing global tensions. Yet he has greatly exacerbated the economic and geopolitical crises rather than solved them.
We need a change of foreign policy. After the elections, there will be an important time for reassessment. Americans and the world need economic recovery, diplomacy, and peace.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development. He has been adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Sachs is the author, most recently, of A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020). Other books include: Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable (2017) and The Age of Sustainable Development, (2015) with Ban Ki-moon.
This article is from Common Dreams.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
In a world where war trumps peace, the grim reaper & his crypt keeper creep around, 24/7 drumming up WWIII; NOT, peace. NO ONE Is SAFE!!!
“The past year and a half of “progress” has been a year and a half of mass death. More so, than any other event, the pandemic has made clear that the capitalist ruling elites are willing to accept any level of death in the population.
– The acceptance and even promotion of mass sickness and death from COVID-19 indicate that a certain psychological barrier has been crossed in ruling circles in relationship to the use of nuclear war.”
IF, POTUS-V.P & their BOARD OF EXECUTIONERS “are willing to sacrifice the lives of 1 million Americans, what qualms do they have about the deaths of millions abroad?”
The “PROGRESSIVES” Agenda is to distract the population from the social crisis, soaring prices, staggering levels of death from the pandemic; and $upport the US-NATO v. Russia war in Ukraine.
A “progressive” House of Congress would embrace “A Plan To Save The Planet!!!” And f/WAR!
“A Plan to Save the Planet,”developed by Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research & The Network of Research Institutes.” A best practice, Email in “A Plan to Save the Planet,” to Senators, Governors, Mayors, City Councils, etc…
“We need a change of foreign policy. After the elections, there will be an important time for reassessment. Americans and the world need economic recovery, diplomacy, and peace.” (JEFFREY D. SACHS)
Imo, “A PLAN TO SAVE THE PLANET” is the path to peace on earth. Ciao
Just two points I wish to mention. 1st, regarding the US’ reputation. US credibility is already shot to pieces. It very much is, as President Putin said, completely ‘not agreement capable’. The Iran nuclear deal is one example. A deal was in existence, its components verified by nuke inspectors, i.e. it was working. Until Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of it. A deal done by this president has no expectation of surviving the next president. The US cannot and is not trusted. America’s own population doesn’t trust their government, and neither does a large part of the world.
2nd. “We need a change in foreign policy.” says Mr. Sachs. Yes, yes we do indeed. However, presidents do not make policy. Deep state makes policy, and it doesn’t allow president to stray off the path. Yes, america does need a saner foreign policy, but do not expect that to occur unless the US suffers a mighty defeat. Then things may change. Until that occurs, the US will remain on the unipolar path it undertook at the end of the Cold War.
Mike Pompeo summed up not only the C.I.A. but the american political establishment as a whole: “We lie, we cheat, we steal.”
“Biden believes that America’s global reputation is at stake in the Ukraine War”; this immediately shows his stupidity. It was Biden and his son, delegated by Obama, who started the needless interfering in a corrupt, debt-ridden “nation” trying to settle its future after contested elections. Biden’s neocon plan allowed no agreement with neighboring Russia. What business is this of the USA on the other side of the earth? None of the suggestions Putin has made since 2007 have even been contemplated by Biden and his “team” or Obama before him, despite UN peace plans ignored also by also by “allies ” Germany and France. NONE of this can fairly be blamed on Russia, or President Putin of infinite patience.
I do not think that even the other difficulties Biden had can be blamed on Trump’s one term. He is a terrible POTUS, hated by nearly every world leader for good reason!!
The sh(ip)it of fools…More often than not I get this distinct feeling that the US is actually praying for war.
the U.S., “The cradle of the best and of the worst.”
VERA, no doubt about it, “The sh(ip)it of fools” is a runaway train, headed the wrong way, on a one way track, WAR. The $hituation is “In fact, we started our assistance to Ukraine before this war began.” (Joey R. Biden, MARCH, 2022).
Leonard Cohen’s DEMOCRACY, comes to mind, “Sail on. Sail on. O mighty ship of state. To the shores of need. Past the reefs of greed through the squalls of hate. Sail on. Sail on. Sail on. Sail on…”
“It’s coming through a hole in the air. From those nights in Tiananmen Square.
It’s coming from the feel. That this ain’t exactly real; Or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.”
“I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean. I love the country but I can’t stand the scene. And, Im neither left or right. I’m just staying home tonight; getting lost in that hopeless little screen; But, I’m stubborn as those garbage bags That time cannot decay. I’m junk but I’m still holding up this little wild bouquet. Democracy is coming to the USA.” (LEONARD COHEN)
“Where is democracy really coming?’ And it was the U.S.A…So while everyone was rejoicing, I thought it wasn’t going to be like that, euphoric, the honeymoon. So it was these world events that occasioned the song. And also the love of America. Because I think the irony of America is transcendent in the song. It’s not an ironic song. It’s a song of deep intimacy and affirmation of the experiment of democracy in this country. That this is really where the experiment is unfolding. This is really where the races confront one another, where the classes, where the genders, where even the sexual orientations confront one another. This is the real laboratory of democracy.” (LEONARD COHEN) hxxps://americansongwriter.com/behind-the-song-democracy-by-leonard-cohen/
Thanks for your sober assessment of Biden’s foreign policy disasters that are too many to enumerate. Not surprising if one considers Biden’s record as chairman of the judiciary and foreign relations committees as harbingers of things to come. He and his colleagues’ treatment of Anita Hill and his vote for Clarence Thomas and, of course, his selection of witnesses before the Iraq War that ensured its enviable outcome. With a guy like that running things what can go wrong?
Biden’s actions do not “undermine” his party (which is trash). Rather, they “exemplify” his party, as well as the other half of the duopoly.
A famous essay by George Orwell – ”Notes on Nationalism” – was a polemic against the psychology of ‘nationalism’ – nationalism in a broader sense than is generally understood. He writes:- ”Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them since the two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular way of life one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force it on over people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige not for himself but for the nation or any other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
”The nationalist sees history, especially contemporary history as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens that seems to him a demonstration of his own side is on the up grade and some hated rival on the down grade … Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakably certain of being in the right….
… Although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What s/he want is to FEEL, that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can see more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether or not they support him. All nationalist nationalist controversy is at the debating society level. It is also entirely inconclusive since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory.
Some – nationalists are not far from clinical schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connexion with the physical world.”
For ‘nationalists’ of course read Neo-cons and their fellow travellers. These people are completely deranged and headed toward the cliff’s edge and taking us with them.
Interesting quotation on nationalism from the ever prescient and relevant George Orwell.
The irony here is that the neocons consider themselves “internationalists,” as their focus is on domination of countries abroad (better said, world domination), as opposed to nationalists. And many anti-interventionists from the right side of the political spectrum consider themselves nationalists – concentrating on the nation, as in “America First.”
If one replaces the words “nationalism” and “nationalist” in Orwell’s essay (and the above comment) with the words “imperialism” and “imperialist,” the meaning would be even clearer.
The Biden Ukraine policy is why I won’t vote Democrat in 2022 and likely not in 2024 if we’re still here..
Who Blew Up Nord Stream Pipelines? | A Mystery! hXXps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSZyKYitC3M
Jimmy Carter called campaign donations “legalized bribery.” The march to the right is inevitable. Each successive candidate/incumbent promises to be more hawkish than his opponent who is also competing for defense contractor donations
biden never met a war he didn’t like. probably heavily invested in the “defense” corporations.
The US neocons spent $5bn on their Ukrainian project that culminated in the 2014 Coup. Therefore, all of what is happening there today was pre-planned, they knew Russia would react to the possibility of NATO in Ukraine so mission accomplished.
So, diapers Joe has no intention of delivering a diplomatic end to this conflict because he’s now carrying out his part of the neocon plan, it’s no good saying he should seek a peaceful solution, that’s not what he’s there for.
I do wonder if Sachs knew all about this crazy neocon plan? If he did then he should turn whistleblower and speak about it if he disagrees with Bidens stance so much.
You’re right, this is part of a well documented long term plan to destroy Russia that has been in the making since well before 2014. Biden has publicly revealed this intent on many occasions. He has been personally involved in it for at least 8 years, if not more, and has a deeply vested interest – financial through his son, strategic because of his extreme neocon beliefs, and now political through his presidency.
He has staked everything on this gamble, and is visibly losing – which makes his demented behaviour even more dangerous. Pushing the US to take on China at the same time is suicidal.
The only way the US can realistically take on both Russia and China at the same time is with nuclear weapons – causing WWIII and killing most, if not all, of the planet.
The terrible problem for humanity is that the US thinks it can win!
Good to read this critique from an “establishment” figure, though I have a hunch Sachs was among the asset-strippers of Russia who betrayed Gorbachev and “helped” bring us to this place. Perhaps Sachs will wake a few “liberals” up from their slumbers/hallucinations etc. From here in the UK I hope the Dems get wiped out in the mid-terms.
I believe we are in dire straits, so help me God, I can’t believe what is going on .
We have a pathological liar as Commander in Chief threatening nuclear war as a prop that he is some kind of tough guy. What is actually even worse and greater threat are all of those people with virtue signaling Ukraine flags and war mania. They have never heard or read the simple truth about Ukraine, Russia and the U.S. that appear in Mr. Sach’s brief recounting of the actual history. The first step toward recovery is admitting the problem. The thieves in charge are able to commit massive crimes only because the people let them get away with it. The people are too easily mollified with obvious, blatant propaganda. This may be finally starting to change but for now, cynical ignorance rules. Dishonest people will always lie, steal and cheat. And that is why they must be held accountable. Let’s start with the Biden Regime and go from there. The voters have the power to elect a new oversight group in the next few days. They can rein in these criminals and possibly even bring them to justice. This is a test of whether the people or the propaganda will triumph.
These are all key points, and their absence from most news and info sources is intolerable.
Today’s debate on Democracy Now between Ray McGovern and Matt Duss offers important insights alongside the official line, but more resistance to endless war is desperately needed.
Well, I watched the debate between Matt Duss and Ray McGovern and was appalled by all of the lies about Russia, Putin, and the roots of the Ukrainian Crisis (I do think Duss actually believed the BS he was repeating). Ray was thorough and accurate in his retelling of those events while not being far more polite that I am being in my assessment.
One thing I noticed that was quite interesting, when Matt Duss spoke, all you saw behind him was the US Capitol dome — how uplifting. When McGovern spoke, however, beside him in the frame were videos of destruction in Ukraine cause by Russia’s Special Military Operation. Can Democracy Now be more blatant in their subtextual implication that somehow Ray McGovern and people who hold similar views have no problem with Russian forces killing Ukrainians?
Wow! Good observation. I hadn’t noticed that. Maybe I was so perturbed by Duss’ views (more likely, propaganda) and demeanor and the fact that Bernie Sanders kept this idiot employed which doesn’t reflect well on Sanders who always sucked on foreign policy–obviously, with Duss advising him and Sanders approving it. Duss seems like a shady character to me.
Completely agree……..the shut down of views contrary to endless war, with war’s traditional blame the enemy game in full force, suggests that the chances of our species growing up and renouncing large scale violence are slim.
So sad for the world’s children……….innocent of what they are going to have to endure going forward.
Snatching defeat from victory. Are we cursed?
There is an easy explanation for such an inconsistent foreign policy: Biden suffers from cognitive problems, going back to his time as VP. Given all the corruption allegations against his son, the massive American Big Ag presence in Ukraine, Voilà.
It is said that a country gets the government it deserves. With the never ending political infighting…how can a decent government take hold?
Nah. Biden’s obvious cognitive problems have nothing to do with it (except as an apt metaphor for the U.S. as a whole). His policy hasn’t changed a bit from his days as a senator when he aligned with Republican neocons to lie us into the Iraq War. It wasn’t “cognitive problems” that led Biden to foment the disaster that is now ukraine (for which his son was handsomely rewarded). This is simply who Biden is and who he has always been.
I must also say I love this guy for his intelligence and for speaking truth to power and for, let’s face it, putting his life on the line. Truth gets you killed or jailed or in prison for years without an accusation. If Julian is prosecuted in USA, signal among many others is democracy is dead in this country.
Diplomacy was part of dems platform, which they seem to have abandoned. And Matt saying on Democracy Now that US has stellar diplomacy is like a jerk wanting to be part of the rest of the jerks.
I can’t think of any substantive effort or initiative by Biden to avoid the war. He showed his hand earlier by name callig, “thug”, and “killer”. Then there was that private comment to the Florida Mayor to the effect, “You don’t f— with a Biden”. Dangerous. Not an adult. Unreliable on China. Not our man. Tulsi?
Tulsi is Islamophobic not to mention transphobic and is hardly a dove. She may be better on Russia specifically, but she is very pro-military in general and becoming more right-wing by the day.
Calling Tulsi Gabbard Islamophobic and transphobic is slanderous and not true – this is the usual mainstream media tactic of smearing people with different convictions.
Calling out “radical Islamic ideology” – which does exist, just like radical Christian and Jewish ideologies – doesn’t make her Islamophobic – in fact, she criticized Trump’s travel ban on Muslims.
And criticizing some of the extreme excesses of the current so-called “woke ideology” doesn’t make her “transphobic.”
No one in American politics has been more active than Tulsi Gabbard in condemning the neocons, their “forever” regime-change wars, and the mindless militarism of the Bush, Obama and Biden administrations – indeed she is a “dove”, which conviction is informed by her military experience. No one knows better than active members of the military the costs and risks of war, in particular senseless wars, not in the national interest.
It’s the American stupidity but most of all their TOTAL ARROGANCE as a so-called world power – even while declining – to such powers as China & Russia. In international diplomatic relations it’s mostly US TOTAL LACK of INTELLIGENCE & TOTAL DISRESPECT for the rest of this planet. This is proven by the way they treat occupied nations like Germany, Japan, Korea & the many other nations that are occupied by US troops or Navy or Air Force as we see with Australia!!
There are two ways to look at it. Either Biden a his close consorts are simply incompetent as are their war-loving handlers from Hillary to the MIC and WallSt. Or, from his VP days supervising hate-Russia-Putin Hillary and Victoria Nuland in their CIA-organized coup of Maiden Square, this entire program is exactly where it was supposed to go, interrupted for 4 years by Hillary’s being dumped by Trump.
I find both alternatives possible, although I tend to prefer the latter and, of course, both could be true.
I have no doubt that there is also a lot of money being pocketed by choice politicians and their families, but they had lesser evils where they could fill their bank accounts.
In any event, this missile-triggered war serves neither the Ukraine nor the American public. It did get rid of the Azov and Svoboda Battalions, but has probably left the Ukraine with their ham actor President for life. Ours will disappear in 2024 whether he runs or not. I could imagine that he would replace the Harris nullity with Hillary as VP then have a sudden heart attack.
And to top it all off, guess who gets to pay for it.
Why do we have to vote for trump in order to end the Ukraine war? Why is trump the voice of reason in this regard? Are you listening, potus?
Jim other, no Jim he isn’t listening. Remember that line about no one fuc&*%# with a Biden.
When we consider the events in the Ukraine, and according to the NY Times this history goes all the way back to 7/22/2009, Joe backed Ukraine in NATO. The Biden’s own this war in Ukraine, them the NEOCONS and the State Department and the national security combine.
Very good. Two comments. 1. Crimea was never a part of the Ukraine. People seem to think that empires are accretions of countries. They are not. They are blobs that are divided into political subdivisions at the whim of the central government. When Khrushchev “gave” Crimea to the Ukraine in 1954 all he did was put Crimea in the same political subdivision as the Ukraine and Crimea had a get out of jail free card to break the association with the Ukraine. The Ukraine ignored all that when they annexed Crimea when both regions voted – separately – to leave the Russian Federation in 1991. That annexation was illegal under the rules of the old SovU. 2. You can forget the Minsk agreements. That train left the station when the US fomented the coup (which the US is desperately trying to sweep under the carpet) that prompted the Donbass to declare independence and the Ukraine refused to implement the Minsk accords with the help of France and Germany. The Ukraine attacked the Donbass not once but twice and was lining up to attack it a third time when Russia stepped in and said, We don’t think so. Given that previous record and the history of Ukrainian repression of the Russian language (and any other language) in the Ukraine as well as their documented abuse and murder of Russian speaking sympathizers, I doubt that the people in the four provinces that voted to join Russia are going to be interested in coming under the tender mercies of Ukrainian authorities.
And remember, countries are really all about the people in the country, not the political authorities.
If the US continues they will have another failed plan.
We wlil all lose.
True, but we must begin with acknowledgement that the entire war was caused by Biden’s dismissal of diplomacy.
It does not just go on because we won’t talk about stopping. It started because we would not talk about avoiding it.
Not surrender. Diplomacy. A deal. Recongnition that Russia has interests very similar to our own along our own borders. Just don’t put NATO there. Make it like Austria, and there would have been no war and a prosperous (and at least somewhat Western friendly) Ukraine.